Tag: music

Review: The Best of Pagan Song, by Serpentine Music

By Mike Gleason | March 8, 2004 | Leave a comment

The Best of Pagan Song, by Serpentine Music
CD: 0247710042, 2004

My 23 year-old daughter and I have many differing opinions, and we often agree to disagree on things, but as soon as she saw this CD, she asked if she could give it a spin on her player. Looking over the play-list she cheered the inclusion of “Burning Times” (Charlie Murphy), “We Won’t Wait Any Longer” (Gwydion Pendderwen), “Christians and Pagans” (Dar Williams), and “Magick” (Gypsy). Then she started reading the liner notes and discovered that “Every Woman Born” (Ruth Barrett) was written in honor of my daughter’s Fairy Goddess Mother’s (Z. Budapest) 40th birthday. Needless to say, that made her day. [See her impressions attached to the end of my review]

The hour’s worth of music on this disc runs the gamut from irreverent to deeply moving (kind of like the spread from Discordians to family traditions). As such, it is a great metaphor for the Pagan movement in its entirety.

Although there are some songs and artists I am unfamiliar with, many of them are old favorites I have worn out copies of tapes and LPs with, and by, some of them. I have, as a result of listening to these wonderful songs revised and expanded my “wish list” of albums to add to my collection.

I have to agree with my daughter’s comments and evaluation. I must say I look forward to exploring the catalog of Serpentine Music. I am sure I will find more treasures waiting to be discovered.

Sheri’s Comments: A magnificent compilation for ritual, parties, or even a teaching tool. Old timers like me will find this a wonderful reminder of why we have come this way and why we’ve stayed. Newbies who may not be aware of our universal presence in the arts will most likely find themselves inspired to pick up the standard. All said, it’s just an incredible album. Whether you’ve been an initiate for 30 years or a student for three months, “The Best of Pagan Song” affects all that connects to the self, the Mighty Ones, and to the universal Pagan community we can all achieve if we believe in ourselves, each other, and the Lord and the Lady.


Review: Bardic Tales from the Mabinogion, by Hughin the Bard

By Mike Gleason | March 3, 2004 | Leave a comment

Bardic Tales from the Mabinogion, by Hughin the Bard
CD: Llewellyn, 1567186556, 57 minutes 16 seconds, 1997

This CD contains a bit less than an hour’s worth of music (57 minutes 16 seconds), and 16 tales ranging across the mythos of the Mabinogion. Some are light-hearted and stir joy in the heart, and others tells tales of heroes and heroic exploits.

The tone of the songs and the sound of Hughin’s voice remind me of two songsmiths I had the pleasure of listening to in the early days of my Pagan experiences in the Midwest, at pagan Spirit Gathering (and their predecessor – Midwest Pagan Gatherings)) – Jim Alan of Circle and Gwydion Pendderwen of Nemeton.

Although not acapella, the sound of the human voice is far and away the dominant impression carried throughout this recording. The instruments provide support, but do not overwhelm.

The CD is divided into two approximately equal parts – Tales of Olde Dyved and Children of Don, representing two different threads of myths. All of these songs, and many more, may be found in A Bard’s Book of Pagan Songs, by the same author (ISBN 1-567180603-3 © 1996 published by Llewellyn).

While you don’t need the book to enjoy the CD, and you don’t need the CD to enjoy the book, they do make a wonderful combination. I had owned the book for several years before acquiring the CD. It provides a wealth of music to be shared and enjoyed.

For those of us who grew up on either Irish or American flak music, this music draws us back to those days. But, even if you are unfamiliar with the content of the Mabinogion (a collection of ancient Welsh tales), even if you have never heard a bard sing the history of his people, even if you couldn’t name a single folk song, these songs will seem, somehow, familiar. The rhythms course through our veins and our lives.

To hear these tales told in song is to be drawn back in time when a visiting bard was a major event in the life of a village. There would be entertainment for a night or two, and the youngsters would heard of the glory of their ancestors, and dream of the glory they would win for themselves and their families.

This CD is no substitute for sitting down and reading the Mabinogion (there are a few translations out there). It is, however, a good inspiration. After hearing this CD you may find yourself looking around for such a translation. These versions of the tales are kept very simple. If they weren’t, this would be a multi-disk set.

I wouldn’t recommend it for ritual – vocals tend to be a distraction from invocations and magickal focus – but for an after-ritual potluck, as an introduction to a class on Welsh mythology or the magick of music, or simply to set an enjoyable mood for a Pagan gathering, it is certainly an appropriate choice. And, it is fun to listen to as well.


Acoustic Sigils

By Greg Turner | August 18, 2003 | Leave a comment

Music and !0Magic!1

I’ve stumbled on what seems to be an excellent system for creating ACOUSTIC sigils to go along with a respelling of intent. I’m sorry the explanation is a little long and maybe difficult to understand for the musicially uninitiated. Like many things, it’s much easier to put into practice than explain unfortunately.

Before I get into the actual process, I wanted to talk about the importance of instrumentation in “magical” music.

I’m attracted to the trance producing capabilities of music and so have gotten interested in 1) the gamelan music of Indonesia. It’s stated goal is to place the audience in a half-awake half-asleep state. 2)the ecstatic qawali singing of Persian music and 3) the polyrhythms of Africa and therefore Voudou.

What is interesting to me is that gamelan instruments are played in pairs which are roughly a quarter step apart and this creates binaural beats which are in the range of the alpha or theta brainwave frequencies. Also, the gamelan is tuned to a scale that is divided into 10 equal parts instead of the normal 12 of western musical practice. The number 10 has magical correspondences which I will leave up to you to extract. In a related topic, the music of Thailand, with a very similar rhythmic structure and instrumentation to that of gamelan, is in 7 equal steps to the octave which relates to Uranous and 7 headed dragons if you’re into that sort of thing.

The scales used in Persian music are in 24 or 48 equal but have most of the notes tuned to normal notes like the music of India but the Setar (not sitar) has two of it’s strings tuned to C and C1/4sharp producing the binaural beats again. The setar is the preferred instrument of Sufi mystics!

African music for ritual and worship is always polyrhythmic in a western conceived measure of 4/4 played simultaneously with another measure in 12/8. The 12/8 polyrhythm is characteristic of all voudou drumming. Another interesting facet is that in Africa, the Amadindas xylophone is tuned to a scale of 5 equal steps. When creating rhythms and melodies on a wheel as I’m about to show you, it makes a PENTAGRAM! for the Paganly inclined. This is just a subset of the 10 equal of gamelan music. The 5 equal tones to the octave from Africa are what gave rise to the “blue” notes in blues music when African slaves were deprived of their native instruments and had to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of an instrument like the guitar.

Having music in “weird” tunings separates it from the music of mere mortals and adds to its potency in magical work. So, I have started combining these elements to produce the ritual music I’m looking for.

The music I come up with is not difficult to play but requires at least 2 people to get increased efficacy out of but preferably 4 people should be used and ideally 8. However, 1 person playing in 12/8 is enough to throw something unusual into the music because we’re so used to hearing and playing music in 4/4 or 3/4.

When creating a statement of desire, I use the method of first eliminating any repeat letters to create a “mantra” which has no recognizable similarity to the original statement. It’s important that it have at least 2-6 consonants because these will end up as rhythmic events. This is what “well-formed rhythms” have every 5 seconds which roughly equals about the span of one measure. Another interesting aside is that Masks of Alaskan shamanism are always distorted to show the “magical” source of the spirits they’re fashioned after, so there is a historical justification for this method of distorting the magical tool prior to that of Osman Spare.

Anyway, I will eliminate the vowels as well and like to add my own again later to create the “mantra.” If eliminating letters reduces the mantra too much then it’s not necessary to do it and the substitute method of only eliminating the vowels is used. If either method leaves you feeling that the word is still too recognizable then a method of extrapolating permutations is used. So, if the statement of intent is, “I want to love myself better. This is simplified to “I love myself” and the vowels removed with the result “lvmslf.” This has a duplicate letter “l” so I eliminate the second one. I like to reinterject the vowel “a” with the result “lavamasafa.” For me, this is staisfactorily unrecognizeable but if you didn’t think so then you could take lvmsf and rearrange them putting every other letter on a different side such as lmf/vs. This results in lamafavasa. If your mantra is longer than 6 consonants then you can use both methods and do anything else you have to do to make it come down to 6. I’ll use the first one which goes lavamasafa because I was happy with it.

Now draw a circle and mark the quarters and cross quarters. This represents both the diatonic melody and also the rhythm in 4/4. For ease of reference I’ll use the C major scale but any mode of this scale or Persian scales such as Rast or Indian Ragam could be used instead which have microtonally flat scale degrees, as long as it has 7 notes to the scale and the includes the octave. This will also work for the Thai tuning.

The point at the top is the notes “C.” The next note going clockwise around the circle is “D.” The one after that is “E” etc… all the way around until you get to the 8th position which represents the “C” an octave above.

Now, I write the alphabet around the circle starting at the top with “A” going clockwise around. Next, I look for the correspondences between the alphabet and the notes of the scale. The mantra is lavamasafa so the first LETTER I’m looking for is “L.” When I find it I see that it corresponds to the NOTE “F.” The next letter is “V,” since I’m avoiding all the vowels, which corresponds to the note “A.” I draw a line from the “F” on the circumference cutting across the circle to the note “A.” The matrix created by the note/letter correspondences also produces the SIGIL! by drawing a line from note to note Cool!!! Another side comment is that advertisers for products like Marlboro cigarettes know there are gender differences in logo attractiveness. Designs with sharp points, like this method creates, are likely to appeal more to a males unconscious and not as well to females, at least the ones living in North America.

After you’ve plotted the whole thing you’ve got the order the notes should be played in and only PART of your sigil because you will have to create the rhythm for the 12/8 cycle to superimpose over this one in order to create a polyrhythm.

You’ll be happy to hear that the rhythm for the 4/4 portion is already contained in the design of the sigil. The notes “C” of the scale is also the first beat in the measure if you now treat the circumference of the circle as a rhythmic matrix instead of a melodic one as we have been doing up to now. This sigil shows that its rhythm has NO events on the first and second eighth notes but DOES have events on the next four. We are finished creating the rhythm for the part which is in 4/4.

Before we go on to the 12/8 portion, we can place the notes of the melody in the linear form of the rhythm i.e standard music notation. So, not only is the rhythm the first drum part, it is also the rhythm for the melody associated with it.

In this case we have one note left over which doesn’t fit onto the rhythm so I alternate playing it and not playing it to help create a little variety.

The melody should be played on gamelan instruments, Thai instruments or Setar. Or, if you’re capable, sung, as the voice is the preferred instrument for communicating intent in Shamanism.

A 12 string guitar can also be adapted to play binaural beats by detuning the sets of double strings by a 1/4 step, Persian musicians outside of Turkey usually tune to 1/8 steps and this still corresponds to acceptable brainwave frequencies for magical use. Or two instrumentalists can play purposefully out of tune a bit on western instruments of any kind in a pinch.

African music also has a pattern played on bell(cowbell, agogo or otherwise) which I derive by rhythmic diminution of the part I already have. In laymans terms it means to play one part twice as fast as the drum part on an obnoxious bell, if you’re into traditional African music, or on a shaker or rattle if you’re crossing over into shamanism.

The Shaman often holds the rattle close to his head because the random, multiple strikes occuring inside the rattle also affects brainwaves placing himself into a magical state or if you shake it above a patient, putting them into the alpha “healing” frequency.

Next we create the melodic and rhythmic patterns in 12/8 the same way we made the ones in 4/4 except we make a new circle marking the quarters but this time we don’t mark the cross quarters and instead ultimately have 12 stations on the circumference of the circle.

Plot the alphabet around the circle and draw the sigil based on the letter associations from the statement of intent.

If you wish to derive a melody from this, the most natural way is from the chromatic scale which has 12 notes or you can devise some other scheme.

Again, the station at the top of the circle is the first beat of the “measure.” This word is in parenthesis because African musicians don’t conceive of their music in measures or of even having a downbeat. Anyway, rhythmic events are known because of where the sigil makes tangents with the circle.

Most rhythm around the world is additive and not necessarily divided exactly in half as is western music. It’s easier to play in 12/8 if you think of it as 3+3+3+3. This rhythm has a rhythmic event on the first beat in the first group of three. An event on the last beat in the second group of three. On the first beat in the third group of three. And on the first and last in the second group of three.

I forgot to mention that the kind of repetetive music which sigilization constructs is very similar to avante guarde music and the music of John Cage who is mentioned on some of the Chaos “magic” websites I’ve seen. I forgot to mention previously that instruments can be acquired or made inexpensively or free. A gamelan metallophone/xylophone can be constructed out of electrical conduit and a pipe cutter or out of discarded wood. Just experiment with the lengths until you get the right pitches providing a whole range of tuning possibilities very cheaply. 5 gallon plastic water bottles make great drums and the small ones also work well as a kind of bongo. Anything can be used really such as foot stomping or an upturned garbage can. Salt shakers or toothpick vials make nice shakers. Different lengths of ABS pipe with end caps make stamping tubes which can function as a drum part producing different pitches. In Cuba a brake “drum” taken from a car is often used which can function as the bell of African music in this context. I use big circular saw blades as gongs since they are prominent in the rhythmic structure of gamelan music playing on every fourth beat with the lowest pitched gong playing before everyone begins and as the last stroke of a piece of music. A fretless instrument like a guitar or violin can be made from some wire, a broom handle and a coffee can for a resonator/body. Use two strands of wire and tune them a quarter step apart. Use coloured tape to indicate different places where to put your fingers. Mapping out The Thai tuning, gamelan tuning and standard scale steps or whatever is your preference. If you want to play it like a violin or cello, a bow can be made from a dowel and any piece of fabric that you can put dried tree sap on.

If anyone wants to post this on their personal website has my permission.


Cthulhu Rap

By fire ant collective | September 8, 2002 | Leave a comment

From: fire ant collective
Newsgroups: alt.discordia,alt.slack,alt.horror.cthulhu
Subject: Cthulhu Rap
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 13:13:25 -0700

When he’s on the mike he rocks the place
he’s that evil MC from outer space
got tentacles growin all out his face
hes the nemesis of the human race
Great Cthulhu
Great Cthulhu

Cold kickin in the crib down under the sea
hes got big plans for you and me
don’t need no gat, aint got no shank
he’s dreamin about the ultimate gank
Great Cthulhu
Great Cthulhu

Old school Mac Daddy on the violent tip
his posse in effect cold crazy as shit
That is not dead which can eternal lie
and with strange eons even death may die
U’U’U’Unspeakable Horror
U’U’U’Unspeakable Horror

Alhazred is a prophet and I think you ought to listen to
what the Necronomicon
can say to you
Unspeakable horror is coming our way
and when it does he’ll be here to stay
rupture your mind with the horrible sight
he’ll come to the hood when the stars are right
U’U’U’Unspeakable Horror
U’U’U’Unspeakable Horror
M’M’M’Miskatonic
M’M’M’Miskatonic

Cause the boys in Ryleyh are always hard
you come talkin that latin they’ll pull your card
knowin nothin in life but to be insane
don’t quote me boy cause I’ll eat yo brain!”

Mc’s General “Strike” and Drifer “Bob”
and all the girls and boys of the Fire @nt Collective


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